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© AI Ishitobi/2011/SOWC LAUNCH
UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr Isyie Ndombi Launches "The State of the World's Children Report 2011" looking on is UNICEF'S new regional ambassador Merewalesi Nailatikau

UNICEF:  Investing in adolescents can break cycles of poverty and inequity

Suva Fiji 26 February 2011 – UNICEF today called for urgent commitment and targeted investment by governments, partners and key stakeholders to break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequity faced by more than 1 billion adolescents aged 10-19 in the world.

Highlighting key global findings in UNICEF’s flagship publication, The 2011 State of the World’s Children report, entitled ‘Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity’, UNICEF Representative in the Pacific, Dr. Isiye Ndombi urged partners to create a protective and supportive environment for adolescents by investing in vital areas such as improved data collection and analysis, education and training, expanding opportunities for youth participation so that their concerns can be heard and stepping up the fight to tackle poverty and inequity.

“This report calls for urgent action to create a supportive environment that will encourage adolescents’ rights to be fulfilled and enable them to improve their own lives,” Dr. Ndombi reiterated.

The report highlights that while enormous gains were made in the last two decades for early and middle childhood due to strong investments, young people in the second decade of their lives were not given enough consideration in international and national development contexts. Globally, millions of adolescents standing at the crossroads between childhood and the adult world are seriously disadvantaged because they lack the knowledge and skills required to deal with issues of exploitation, abuse and violence.

Dr. Ndombi said available data showed that the rights of millions of adolescents were not fulfilled. “Many are denied access to quality education, basic, sexual and reproductive health care, support for mental health issues and disability. Millions have no protection from violence, abuse and exploitation and no forums for active participation”.

He added that today’s young people faced a unique set of collective global challenges such as an uncertain global economic outlook, high levels of youth unemployment, an increasing number of humanitarian crisis and conflicts, rapid urbanization and climate change.

Drawing attention to the Pacific, Dr. Ndombi painted a grim picture of a generation of young people who faced a future of great uncertainty due to the impact of climate change and the accelerating deterioration of the environment.

The Pacific comes under the spotlight through an essay written by the President of the Republic of Kiribati, Mr. Anote Tong that is featured in the report. President Tong underscored the long term harmful consequences of climate related disruptions on the lives and prospects of young people in his country.

Kiribati, at the frontline of climate change, is among the most vulnerable globally to the impacts of climate change and will be among the first to be affected by sea level rise. Half of Kiribati’s 93,000 people are children and young people who will bear the brunt of economic disruption and the cost of mitigating and adapting to climate change in the years to come.

Dr. Ndombi echoed President Tong’s sentiments and those of other Pacific island states by warning that failure to react to climate change now would result in high cultural, social and financial costs where economic disruptions could be catastrophic, even requiring populations to relocate to other countries.

“Climate change as a development challenge requires collective action that brings together sustainable development, energy security and actions to safeguard the health and well being of children and adolescent. Young people in the Pacific, like anywhere else in the world are deeply concerned about how climate change will affect their future and are calling for urgent action,” Dr. Ndombi emphasized.

UNICEF also formally announced the engagement of former Miss South Pacific and youth activist, Merewalesi Nailatikau as the Regional Ambassador for the Pacific Island Countries.

This is the first time UNICEF is formally engaging a young Pacific islander to join a growing list of well-known and highly respected personalities throughout the world from sports, music, and performing and film arts and many other specialist fields play an important advocacy role in helping us promote UNICEF’s work.

Mere represents a positive role model for young people in particular. Her genuine interest in issues that concern UNICEF and her active involvement already in some of these causes will add to making her a great ambassador for the Pacific. Through UNICEF’s regional reach in the Pacific, Mere will be offered unique access to young people to help promote UNICEF’s messages.

“As a Regional Ambassador for the Pacific, Mere will help us in our advocacy and programme efforts in communicating to a broad public, young people in particular, the vision and values that guide UNICEF’s work for the children and further promote public awareness of the rights of children, women and young people and of UNICEF’s work protecting those rights”, said Dr. Ndombi.

 

…ends…


Note to the editor
As part of its commitment to reaching out to adolescents worldwide, UNICEF re-launched Voices of Youth (VOY), a youth website on global themes. The platform is youth driven and allows young people to learn, discuss and take action on matters that affect their lives. For more information on VOY visit: http://www.voicesofyouth.org .
 
In the Pacific, Kiribati and Fiji youths have been using the Unite for Climate website and UNICEF Pacific’s Facebook page to dialogue about climate change. Anyone can comment and share ideas or photos on UNICEF Pacific’s Facebook page: facebook.com/likeunicefpacific


Attention broadcasters:
Video footage produced by young people in Kiribati and President Anote Tong on climate change will be available on 26 February through the UNICEF Pacific website: www.unicef.org/pacificislands . Please contact Joseph Hing: jhing@unicef.org to obtain broadcast quality footage.


About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org


For further information, to arrange an interview or to obtain a copy of the report, please contact:

Samantha Cocco-Klein, UNICEF Pacific, +679-323-6141, scoccoklein@unicef.org
Noreen Chambers, UNICEF Pacific, +679-330-0439 Ext 111, nchambers@unicef.org

 

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